Aren’t the times crying out for a new Billy Jack movie? For a while there, I actually thought so. Unpopular war—check. Mistrust of the U.S. government at all-time highs—check. Riled-up people taking it to the streets—check.
And really, aren’t the Billy Jack movies just a ton of message-heavy, high-kickin’ fun? Who wouldn’t want to see the new Billy Jack (or even the “old” Billy, aged in real time, let’s say) suit up again in black T-shirt, denim jacket, beaded hat and blue jeans, giving the Establishment the licking it deserves?
Harrison Ford brought back Indiana Jones. Stallone suited up again as Rambo. If producers didn’t like the notion of keeping Billy in his original timeline and they wanted instead to re-introduce a fresher Billy into this white-hot political landscape, they’d have to cast the part anew.
But hey, no worries! Who’d make a better Billy Jack than Bill Paxton?
(Well, OK. Maybe he’s a little past the prime age for the character. But…look at him. That’s Billy Jack.)
It took a single online search to deflate me entirely. Did you know Billy’s got his own website? Tom Laughlin does, that is—a web presence he maintains with his wife (and co-star) Delores Taylor, and it’s something of a shrine to all things Billy Jack, not to mention the home for Laughlin’s various other pet political causes.
Now, let’s get one thing straight: I’m all for Laughlin championing whatever points of view he and Taylor feel will move this country forward. You’ve got the guts to stand up and tell it like you think it is? More power to you, brother.
What pushed me rudely off the New Billy Jack Wagon was the disappointment of learning that Laughlin appears to be rather committed to certain ideas one could charitably describe as medical pseudoscience—quackery, for short. I simply can’t abide it (and I’ll bet the Dude probably wouldn’t, either). Reared as a kid on Cosmos and an adult fan of Penn & Teller: Bullshit (especially the early seasons, and even when they get things wrong occasionally), I’m just too much a fan of rationality and reality.
Laughlin’s long been underway on a Billy Jack sequel, a follow-up he’s promising will blow the lid off traditional filmmaking onscreen and off, much in the manner of its illustrious predecessor which, yes, was a stunning and unexpected success. So, who am I to say he’s not got the goods all over again? Careful scrutiny of his online “Royalty Financing” business plan, however, brings to mind a financing scheme that resembles…how does one say it…oh, just go look for yourself.
The cinema needs its charismatic heroes and antiheroes. And in these turbulent times, it seems true that a resurrection of your Dirty Harrys, Paul Kerseys, Buford Pussers, Sweet Sweetbacks, and Bill McKays might be overdue. We’ve no shortage of wrongs to be righted.
Screenwriters, producers, get busy inventing an activist mythology that suits our age—leaving the remakes as a last resort and not the first, yes? And above all, let’s leave Billy Jack firmly ensconced in the past where he belongs. So we can recall fondly the days when our favorite exponent of Hapkido championed the love of God’s creatures with a stern look and a swift kick.
Take a moment and see if this doesn’t light your soul afire: